Sunday, August 30, 2009

Headhouse In Late Summer

Because Google's Blogger software seems not to be working properly today, not allowing me to upload photos, you can also read this post with photos at my beta site: Or you can see a photo gallery here. I've also posted links to the individual photos within the text.

These cowpeas, a.k.a. black eyed peas, are destined for a corn-bean salad for dinner tonight, maybe with some tomatoes and some basil from the garden. Yoder’s Heirlooms has been selling these beans, along with limas, for $5 a half-pint, pricey for peasant-food but still attractive. The fresh (not dried) beans took less than five minutes to cook in boiling, salted water. In flavor and texture, very much akin to fresh boiled peanuts, though I prefer the cowpeas to the peanuts.

I’ll be using some more of Tom Culton’s Mirai corn in this dish. In this case, however, no need to cook, since I’ll just strip the kernels and toss them with the beans, seasonings and a vinaigrette. This week the mirai was six ears for $4 vs the $3 a dozen last week, when Tom had to dispose of large quanitities of windblown, grounded ears. I used the last of those last night in a chile rellenos, with a filling of corn, fresh Mexican cheese, a little bit of chopped leftover chicken thigh, and a tiny bit of Mexican chorizo for flavoring. A pain to prep and fry in the whipped egg batter, but very tasty with the mild heat of the large poblanos I purchased at Fair Food.

Tom had lots of other interesting produce today, including broccoli ($3/head), cauliflower ($4), haricots verte, red onions, white eggplant, pattypan squash, concord grapes and his usual assortmen of heirloom tomatoes, including one variety, Peche Blanche that looked more like a yellow plum than a tomato.

Over at North Star Orchards, Asian pears were non-existent (though Beechwood Orchards did have some). Ike of North Star explained that they don’t have too many early-bearing trees, so none were available this week. There should be some next week, but not many. After that the regular crop will come in. In addition to apples, North Star featured colorful carrots and pale flat beans.

In addition to the Asian pears, Beechwood offered Barletts ($5/quart). Quarts of peaches were $4, nectarines $4.50, plums and pluots $6.50, apples $2 (except Honey Crisps, $2.50). Raspberries and blackberries were $4 for a half-pint, while over at Three Springs Fruit Farm the blackberries were $5 for a nearly-full pint.

Blooming Glen Farm had a nice selection of peppers. Green bells were $2/pound, mixed coloreds were $3. Smallish poblanos were a quarter apiece. Leeks were $1 each, heirloom tomatoes $3, field and yellow tomatoes $2. At Weaver’s Way cherry tomatoes were $4/pint, heirloom tomatoes $3.50/pound.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You Don't Give a Fig for a Fig?

So, you say you don’t give a fig for a fig. Think again. Especially when a box of 27 sells for $5.99 at Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market. At less than a quarter apiece, that’s a bargain price, unless you can grab them for free of a neighbor’s tree, as I can.

The variety of the Iovine’s boxes weren’t marked, but they looked like Brown Turkeys. While lacking the richness of some other fresh figs, Brown Turkeys are pleasantly sweet and make good eating, either out of hand or in cooking. They’d be great in Moshe Basson’s recipe for stuffed figs, onions and eggplant, which I first tried at his original Jerusalem retaurant, Eucalyptus. (It’s a time-consuming dish to make, what with hollowing out the three main components, cooking and mincing chicken to be stuffed into the fruits/veggies with some of their pulp, preparing the tamarind sauce and steaming everything, but if you’re game you can find the recipe in Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today.)

If you’d rather eat in América del Norte style, it’s guacamole time. Iovine’s had perfectly ripe Hass avocadoes for 89-cents apiece, limes for 20 cents each, Jersey tomatoes for 50 cents a pound. On the bell pepper survey, suntans were two pounds for a buck, Reds, yellows and oranges $1.49. Frying peppers were 79-cents, long hots 50 cents. Nice South Jersey string beans were 99-cents.

Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce had pricey but very nice red sweet frying peppers for $2.99/pound, green bell peppers for $1.99, red for $2.99. Benuel’s kirby cukes were $2.49 a pound, raspberries $3.95 a half-pint, blackberries $4.95/pint. Fair Food;’s raspberries were $4 for a half-pint, blackberries $7.50 for a pint. In another sign of the change of seasons, white cranberries are back, $2.25/pint.

S&B Meats, Barb & Suzy's Opens

The combined S&B Meats/Barb & Suzy’s Kitchen opened Wednesday.

The butcher shop side of the stall specializes in fresh pork, sausages and some German sausage and cold cut specialties from Illg’s of Chalfont, Bucks County. (Unlike Rieker’s Meats in the Northeast, the area’s other premier German wurstgeshaft, Illg’s is willing to sell wholesale.)

I was particularly impressed by the beef jerky selection in five varities: Sweet ‘n Spicy, BBQ, Teriyaki, Hot ‘n spicy, and Old Fashioned. I mixed a quarter pound of the Sweet ‘n Spicy and Old Fashioned: they make a great chew!

The sausages from Illg’s included Knockwurst ($6,59), Bockwurst ($7.49), Nurnburger ($6.99) and Krakauer ($9.49). German-style wieners were $7.99, and a meaty Beef Tongue Loaf $12.99. It’s nice to see the Germany wurst selection, though some are also offered by L. Halteman. Still, neither store offers the variety that Siegfried’s boasted before they left the market. S&B also sells variously flavored “grillers,” which are basic fresh sausage links, for $3.99, a penny more than Martin’s Quality Meats & Sausage charges.

The food business is a new one for S&B’s proprietor, Moses Smucker. Previously he owned a harness manufacturing business; he shipped his product to equestrians around the world, and even supplied gear for the Busch family’s Clydesdales.

I didn’t try the sausage sandwich on the Barb & Suzy side of the stall, though they looked tasty. There’s room for improvement, however, in the french fries, which were pretty limp. The Deluxe Bacon Fries are the same fries topped with cheese sauce, scallions, sour cream and bacon bits. The fried mushroom I sampled was nice, and I’m told they cut and batter their own onion rings, which I’ll have to sample on a future visit.

New Old City

Old City Coffee opened its renovated second stand at the Reading Terminal Market this past week, next to the Arch Street entryway by Blue Mountain and the Pennsylvania General Store. It replaced a temporary stand that’s been there for about a year and a half.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Asian Pears
at North Star

As noted in a previous post, North Star Orchards has returned to the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market. Yesterday’s big attraction was the Asian pears (foreground). The Ichiban variety was $2.50/pound.

North Star’s carrots, peppers and heirloom tomatoes were also $2.50/pound. Selling for $2/pound were two varieties of apples (Summer Blaze and Chehalis), peaches and nectarines.

Bargain Mirai Corn

High winds late last week did a number on Tom Culton’s corn crop, with multitudinous stalks blown down to the ground. (Corn has notoriously shallow roots given the height of the stalks.) So, Tom picked up the ears from the ground and put them on sale at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market for $3 a dozen.

I shucked half a dozen, striped off the kernels and put them in the freezer, then nuked some ears for dinner (they could be eaten raw, they are so sweet, but I wanted to put butter on them and have it melt). About half of the ears I shucked had just a tiny bit of deterioration at the very end, easily trimmed. The remaining three ears will go into a chicken and corn chowder for dinner tonight.

Microwaving, btw, is an easy, effective and tasty way to prepare corn on the cob. After shucking and trimming, just run each ear briefly under running water, shake off the excess and wrap each ear in wax paper, twisting the ends to retain the moisture. Timing varies depending on your microwave and number of ears, but in my 22-year-old low power machine it takes just 4-6 minutes for four ears at high. Unwrap as soon as they’re done, otherwise they’ll continue to cook a bit and you tempt mushiness.

Culton’s variety of tomatoes, which last week he proclaimed as 120, is now up to 150! He was charging $3/pound.

New this week at the Silver Spring farmers’ stall was cauliflower, $4 a head, and carrots, $3.25/pound. His large variety of sweet peppers were $3/pound.

Leeks, $3 apiece, and fresh shelled beans (cowpeas and limas, $5 for a half-pint) were featured at Yoder Heirlooms.

Blackberries were still available at both Beechwood Orchards and Three Springs Fruit Farm. The latter was selling them for $5 a full pint.

Over at Weaver’s Way it was salsa time, if you wanted to make your own. Tomatillos were $3/pint and hot peppers $4/pound. They also had cilantro. Cherry tomatoes were $4 pint. There was also a big variety of hot peppers at A.T. Buzby, 10 for a buck.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fruit Storage, Ripening Tips

North Star Orchards, which made its seasonal debut at area farmers’ markets this week, including today at Headhouse Square, offers a wonderful guide to ripening and storing its fruit at its web site. You can find it here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Good Steer

Butcher Joe Rabutino at Martin’s Quality Meats & Sausage works on a blue-ribbon steer. Owner Martin Giunta, a long-time supporter of 4-H clubs in South Jersey, purchased this winner at the Salem County Fair in Woodstown earlier this month. Giunta also made hog purchases from the Gloucester County 4-H fair this year.

I asked Joe and fellow butcher Ben Ambrosini if they could cut me a nice rib steak from the prize steer, but they said Martin had already taken that cut home for his own consumption. When I mentioned that to Charles Giunta of Giunta’s Prime Shop, he said he’d have to call his brother and get invited to dinner.

Martin’s also displayed some very meaty pork belly today — identified as Fresh Pork Bacon, City Dressed — for $2.99, pricier than I’d pay at one of the Asian supermarkets, but considerably meatier. Lamb ribs (breast) were $3.29, leg on the bone $4.59.

Brother Charles had a full range of steaks for the grill today. Porterhouse and Delmonico steaks were $9.95, T-bone, New York strips and skirts $8.95, flat irons $7.99, hangers $6.99, boneless sirloins $4.95. Big hunks of boneless leg of lamb were $6,99.

If red meat isn’t your thing, you could wander over to John Yi’s where Spanish mackeral was $2.99 whole, bluefish $2.99, sea bass $5.99. Porgies were $3.99; if you called porgies by the name of their European cousins, bream or dorade, they’d be much more expensive. Among the fileted white fish, haddock was $7.99, fluke $11.99, flounder $.8.99, halibut $16.99, cod $9.99.

Tomato Blight Doesn't Bite Consumer

The late tomato blight of 2009 in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast is real, but it does not appear to have impacted availability and prices, at least so far. Prices for local field tomatoes at the Reading Terminal Market range from 99-cents to $3.00 a pound, in line with last year.

According to the most recent (Aug. 11) report from Penn State, the blight has yet to hit home gardens in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, York and Adams counties in Southeast Pennsylvania, nor commercial growers in Adams, York, Delaware, Lebanon, and Northampton.

Iovine Brothers Produce, as normal, had the least expensive tomatoes, 99-cents a pound for Jerseys. Fair Food wanted $3 a pound for organically grown field tomatoes, $4.95 for yellows. Red and yellow ield tomatoes at Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce were $2.59, heirloom cherry tomatoes $4.95 pint; conventional red and orange cherries $2.95 or two for $9. Fair Food’s red and sun gold cherry tomatoes were $5/pint. I used some red cherry tomatoes earlier this week, halved, atop a crustless quiche and as a pasta sauce.

Peaches, nectarines and plums continue to be juicy, tasty and abundant. Fair Food’s Saturn (donut) peaches were $2/pound, both the yellow and green varieties, green in this case meaning their color, not state of ripeness. Yellow and white peaches were $1.75, nectarines $2, plums $2.50, and pluots $2.75. Kauffman’s was selling peaches and nectarines for $1.99. All the stone fruits at L. Halteman’s were $2.19, or $1.99 in five-pound lots. Iovine’s continues to sell Jersey and Maryland peaches for 99 cents and pluots and plums from afar for $1.49. I didn’t see any local stone fruit at OK Lee.

Apples are appearing in greater variety and Bartlett pears are solidly here. Kauffman’s offerd Sanza, Gala and Ginger Golds for $1.95, while Rambos and Ginger Golds at Fair Foods commanded $1.50. Iovine’s had a selection of commercial apples from further afield from 79 to 99-cents a pound. Bartletts were $1.50 at Fair Food, $1.99 at Kauffmans. Pints of blackberries are still available at Kauffman’s for $4.95/pint, two for $9.

The first of the winter squashes are appearing. Fair Foods had beautiful buttercups today for $2/pound. They also had leaks for $1.50 each. Eggplants continue to be plentiful. Iovine’s string beans were 99-cents, while OK Lee charged $1.49 for string beans, $2,89 for favas and $2.69 for crnberry beans.

Back at Iovine’s, limes and lemons were four for a buck, and seedless grapes in all colors 99-cents.

Ark: Fair Food's, not Noah's

I learned a new definition of the word “ark” recently: a shelf for holding produce. Whether it derives from Noah’s vessel I know not, but I do know that they arrived from the woodshop recently and have been moved onto Fair Food’s new premises at the Reading Terminal Market.

The unfinished wood shelving is but one step before Fair Food can open. Refrigeration units may (or may not) arrive next week, then all the equipment has to be hooked up. Fair Food’s goal is to open before Labor Day weekend, just two weeks from now.

S&B Meats and Barb & Suzy’s Sausage still has next Wednesday, Aug. 26, as its target date for opening.

Work continues at Old City Coffee’s second location, which means I had to get my iced coffee this morning at the main location.

No construction yet at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, but they reportedly have finally got a contractor.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Down Home Diner Re-Do

Jack McDavid wants to renovate his Down Home Diner to break out of his walls and become more intimate with the Reading Terminal Market.

RTM GM Paul Steinke says that in lease negotations, McDavid indicated he wants to tear down the walls that separate his eatery from the rest of the market. He also will be seeking a liquor license, making the restaurant a more viable option for convention-goers who’d like a drink with their meal but don’t want to deal with a state store. If he gets the license, odds are the Down Home Diner’s hours will be expanded to 8 or 9 p.m., maybe beyond. Right now it stays open until 7 p.m. Monday-Saturay (only until 5 p.m. Sundays). When the market’s closed (6 p.m. weekdays) the diner has its own entrance along Filbert Street.

McDavid took over what had been the Market Diner in the mid-1980s. The original, a freestanding diner that would look at home on a North Jersey highway, stood where Amy’s Place and La Cucina at the Market now do business. After the RTM was renovated with the construction of the convention center, McDavid moved to the current location. In subsequent years McDavid expanded to two other restaurants in town: one at Fairmount and 18th, now closed, another, Jack’s Firehouse, at Fairmount near 22nd. The latter is now owned by Fairmount resident and ex-Twenty Twenty-One manager Mick Houston, though Jack still has a say in the kitchen.

Old City Coffee is nearing completion of the renovation of its second stall, on the Arch Street side of the market across from Blue Mountain Winery and the Pennsylvania General Store. The conversion of the stall from a temporary to a permanet outlet should be finished this week.

There wasn’t much visible progress at Fair Food’s new stall, but Sarah Cain, manager, said carpentry work is progressing off-site and refrigerated cases should start to arrive this week. They’re keeping their fingers crossed for opening the weekend of Sept. 4-5, the weekend before labor day.

No work yet at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, which has got its permits but is still lining up contractors.

S&B Meats and Barb & Suzie’s Kitchen still optimistic they can open by August 26. Can’t wait to try those bacon fries, whatever they are!

Produce Peak,
Fewer Shoppers

One of the oddities I’ve noticed in shopping at farmers’ markets (and the Reading Terminal Market) is that although the produce season is going great guns, patronage is down. While the RTM can lure in the tourist traffic that increases this time of year, traffic seems slower at Headhouse Square. Obviously, a lot of city dwellers take their two or three weeks of vacation in August, so it’s natural for headcounts to be reduced, and I suspect when the weather turns frightful (90-degrees, high-humidity), that also cuts down on the casual shopper.

Rain also plays havoc with traffic at farmers’ markets. Just ask Tom Coulton, who drove to Headhouse with 900 pounds of tomatoes a week ago. But with heavy rains he decided not even to unload and head back home to can the tomatoes. There just wouldn’t be enough buyers, he concluded.

Tom didn’t turn around today, as you can see from the photos at the top of this entry. Tom’s chal slate proclaims he’s got 120 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and it just have had at least 15 or them there today. He’s also got Mirai corn, which I reported earlier would be impossible to find unless you made a trip out to Pete’s Produce. Tom’s been growing it for three years and he planted his crop so that he’ll have it for at least another two weeks. This sweet, tender Japanese hybrid is worth seeking out. Tom was selling his ears for 75 cents apiece. I walked away with four ears and a half pint of red cherry tomatoes (3/4 inch diameter: small!) for $7.

Beechwood Orchards, in addition to offering a profusion of plums, peaches, nectarines, berries, tomatoes and early apples, had the season’s first local grapes available today. The red-ish seedless variety (Dave couldn’t say what they were) were firm with a nice bite balanced by just enough sugar. I limited myself to a half-pint of what may be the last blueberries of the season for tomorrow morning’s yogurt ($2.50). Beechwood’s blackberry prices were particularly dear, $4 for a half-pint, vs. $5 for a full pint at Three Springs Fruit Farm. (As noted in previous post, they were $4/pint at Livengood’s at the RTM Saturday.)

Crayfish Correction

The price I reported Aug. 8 for crayfish at Golden at the Reading Terminal Market wasn’t $11.99, but $4.99 a pound. Quite a difference! Still, it’s almost four times more than the $5.99 Ikea was charging for a 2 kilogram (4.4 pound) box.
Autumn Approaches

Two sure signs of the pending seasonal switch could be found at the Reading Terminal Market: pears and celery root.

While we tend to think of pears as a fall fruit, some varieties appear in late summer, including Bartlett and all of its varieties. Iovine Brothers Produce had western Bartletts for 99 cents a pound, and there were also quart boxes of small Bartletts at Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce.

The celery root, a.k.a. celeriac, could be found at Fair Food. A single one, with stalk and tops (even though it’s the root that’s desireable) were $2.95 apiece. Also attracting my attention at Fair Food were the Poblano peppers, $5/pound; maybe it’s time for some homemade chile relenos.

But let’s remember it’s still summer. Tomatoes, standard field varieties and heirlooms alike, are plentiful and, despite the Northeast fungus scare, prices seem in line with last year. Apricots are just about gone, but blueberries can still be found (at least this week) and we’re awash in plums, nectarines, peaches, blackberries (though these seem to be priced dearly at $4-$8 a pint), and second crop raspberries. Summer squashes are proliferating, as are eggplants. It’s also the height of lima bean season.

I made peach ice cream earlier this past week, but failed to add enough sugar. When I sprinkled a little granulated sugar on top and mixed it in, however, the strong peach flavor jumped out. But the idea of sprinkling sugar on top of ice cream is just a tad weird. So I bought two pints of blackberries from Livengood’s Saturday ($4/pint) and put them through my Foley food mill at home, then sieved them to make sure I got out all those pesky little seeds (which are fine to eat in fresh berries, but awful in sauces), combined the resulting juice with a very ripe peach I put through the same mill, added about a cup of sugar to a pan and briefly cooked it all until the sugar melted and it came just barely to a boil. After cooling and sitting in the fridge for a few hours the syrup was pleasingly thickened. That peach ice cream was even better with this on top! (I use the Cuisinart model with the insert you pre-freeze; it works quite well so long as you’ve got room in your freezer for the insert. It sells for $50 at Fante’s.)

Back at Iovine’s, New Jerey salad cucumbers were four for a buck. Various eggplants, including the common purple and rounder Sicilians, were two pounds for a buck. Jersey tomatoes were 50 cents, New Jersey and Maryland peaches 99 cents, and white and black seedless grapes (presumably from California) were 99 cents. Local corn was still three ears for a buck, but limes had climbed back to four for a buck. Pepper survey: green bells from New Jersey 99 cents, red bells $1.99, orange and yellows $2.99, but frying peppers were down to 79 cents. If you really wanted to splurge, little boxes with pieces of truffle could be found in a refrigerator case for $399.99/pound; most pieces were marked at $20-$25.

Sardines at Golden Fish were $3.99 whole. They were about four inches long apiece.

I went to Jonathan’s Best looking for Maldon salt (they didn’t have it), but was impressed by their selection of products from Bob’s Red Mill, which distributes all types of flours and grains. Saves a trip to Whole Foods next time I need chick pea (a.k.a. garbanzo beans, ceci) flour.

Joe Nicolosi, son of the proprietor of Tommy DiNic’s, reports he fried up some pancetta the other day and added it to a pork sandwich for himself. He loved it, but at $5/pound wholesale they won’t be adding it to the menu in these recessionary times. Sounds like a good idea to try at home, though. BTW, DiNic’s will prepare large meat platters (including gravy) for your office or home party. Be sure to order in advance, though, especially as the holidays approach.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The RTM This Week

Peppers at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce

Visited the Reading Terminal Market twice this week, Wednesday and today (Saturday). Here’s what I found:

John Yi added wild coho to its salmon selection, oddly priced a bit more expensively than the sockeye ($16.99 vs. $13.99). Copper River (presumably sockeye, since the king [chinook] CRS haul is down to mostly single digits on days when it’s open; lesser number of coho are being fished, in the hundreds, vs. thousands of sockeye) is $19.99. Halibut filets were $13.99.

Over at Golden Fish Market, cooked crawfish were $11.99/pound. At first glance that seems almost reasonable. Unless you visit Ikea where 2 kg boxes (4.4 pounds) of frozen cooked Chinese crawfish (undoubtedly Golden’s is also Chinese) are on sale for $5.99, or $1.36/pound. So, if you’re yearning for a crawfish fest, make your way to Ikea.

L. Halteman Country Store, in addition to dealing in meats and some Pennsylvania Dutch cold cuts, sells produce from Lancaster County, usually less expensively than other market farmstands and vendors, though sometimes Ben Kauffman’s Lancaster County produce wins on the price score. Today I spied yellow transparent apples, $1.59/pound; limas in the pod, $2.49, cherry tomatoes at $2.29/pint, and salad cucumbers at 3/$1. Peaches and nectarines are $2.19/pound ($1.99 if you buy five pounds or more), blueberries $3.19/pint, $5.29/quart. They’ve also got Bartlett-style pears which have just made their appearance at farm stands.

Over at Iovine Brothers Produce, local peaches (Jersey and Maryland) are 99-cents, as are NJ green bell peppers. Red peppers from “away” are $1.99/pound, orange and yellow $2.99, frying $1.49. Jersey tomatoes are 50-cents a pound, plum tomatoes (provenance unknown) are 99-cents.

Iovine’s local corn, from Shady Brook in Bucks County, is the least expensive in the market at three ears for a buck.

Iovine’s fruit selection also included limes, now back to their bargain price of 10/$1, lemons still 3/$1. Red and white seedless grapes, presumably from California, were $1.99/pound. While everyone else is selling local blueberries, Iovine’s has Florida clamshells for $1.50/pint. Also not local, but well-priced, are cantalopes at a buck apiece, though today they also had local lopes (musk melons, actually, like every other local melon called a cantalope) for $1.99 each.

The fig season has started, at least in California. Iovine offered half pints of black figs (containing about 9-11 fruits) and pints of green figs (6-8) for $4.99. (I’ll wait until a neighbor’s tree bears fruit in about three weeks.)

Cactus pears (they make great margaritas) are $1.99 a pound (roughly two fruits), which is about twice the price as OK Lee (two fruits for a buck) which carries them more frequently. OKL also had five-pound boxes of Peruvian clementines for $2.99; I didn’t buy them given how much great local fruit is available, but at that price it might be worth a try.

What we won’t be seeing at the market this year is Mirai corn. Fair Food Farmstand manager Sarah Cain says the lone known grower in the region, Pete’s Produce Farm in Westttown, is no longer selling wholesale, so it’s only available at the farm near West Chester. It’s in season now, and a sweeter, more tender corn than this Japanese hybrid is hard to find.

Still, there’s plenty of good produce to choose from at Fair Food, including corn. FF also has early apples, Ginger Golds at $1.50/pound. Exceedingly ripe apricots were $3.95/pound. Great selection of plums at $2.75/pound, including shiros, Cardinals, Satsuma and Italians. White nectarines $2, yellows $2.75, white or yellow peaches $1.75. Large purple eggplants were $1.70/pound, fairttales $3. Cubanelle peppers $4, red bells $6, jalapenos $5.95, purple bells $4.95, green bells $3.50.

Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce had the next best price on local corn, after Iovine’s, at 50-cents an ear. Beefsteak tomatoes were $2.99, cherry tomatoes $4.95/pint, twofer $9. Large white and purple eggplants were $1.99, bell peppers in various hues (photo at top) $1.99. Yellow peaches were $1.99, donuts $2.99.

Back in the Markets

After a week in Maine we got back to Philadelphia last Sunday afternoon, too late for Headhouse, which I intend to hit tomorrow. But by Tuesday the laundry was done, the cats retrieved, the mail sorted and dealt with . . . so it was time for a trip to South & Passyunk.

The usual assortment of vendors were there, though I made all of my purchases from Beechwood Orchards: a crenshaw melon, a half-pint of blackberries, three heirloom tomatoes, and about a half-dozen small donut (Saturn) peaches. All were quite tasty, though the peaches were hard and needed a couple of days to ripen; when they did, they were juicy and sweet.

Prices at Beechwood: $3.50 would buy you a pint ($6.50 a quart) of apricots, donut peaches, blueberries, or numerous varieties of plums. Heirloom cherry tomatoes were $2 for a half-pint, but the larger heirlooms were $3.50/pound. Among the heirloom tomato varieties: Nyagous (a Russian black variety), Silver Fir Tree (another Russian variety), Juan Flamme, German Orange-Strawberry, Stupice (Central European in origin), Red Zebra and Amish paste. Raspberries were $2.50 a half-pint, blackberries $4. Melons, depending on size, were priced from $1 to $4 and included cantelopes as well as the crenshaws. Expect similar variety and pricing from Beechwood tomorrow at Headhouse.

Over at Rineer’s pricing was similar: Beefstake tomatoes $2.99, heirloom tomatoes $3.50/pound, blackberries $3.75 half-pint (twofer $7), blues $2.75 (twofer $5). Rineer’s offerings extend beyond vines and berry fruit. Traditional large eggplant were $1.50 apiece, quart boxes of fairtales $3. Green Bell peppers sold at 3/$2.50 or a buck apiece and kirby cucumbers at $2.50/pint or $3.50/quart. Among the melons, watermelon was 50-cents a pound, lopes $3.75 apiece or twofer $7. Whole corn was 65-cents an ear, six for $3.50.

Earl Livengood’s conventional blackberries were $3.95/pint, heirloom tomatoes $4.25, string beans $3.95 for either a quart or a pound. Okra and beets were among other offerings; not much in the way of lettuce on Tuesday.

New Vendors Progress

Barb & Suzy’s Kitchen is aiming for an Aug. 26 opening at the Reading Terminal Market, along with its companion butcher shop, S&B Meats. But that didn’t stop Barb & Suzy from trying out an item at today’s Pennsylvania Dutch Festival that doesn’t appear on the menu boards: roast pig sandwiches. In this case it was another name for pulled pork, and the sample offered me was delectable, served in a vinegary clear juice.

As for the menu, breakfast will concentrate on egg sandwiches with or without cheese, bacon, sausage or ham with the usual beverage options. At lunch it will be sausage sandwiches ($6.50 with peppers, onions and sauce, cheese extra) and hot dogs ($1.75, kraut extra).

What looks most promising on the menu is the friture: deep-fried veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, $3.75/$4.75, dip extra), french fries ($2.25/$3.50, cheese extra) and, most promising of all, “Delux Bacon Fries” ($3.50/$4.75). Don’t know exactly what they will be, but I’m assuming they are french fries and bacon served together. Or maybe it’s battered, deep-fried bacon?

On the S&B Meats side, new refrigerated cases are in place. In addition to fresh meats, they plan on handling a line of German cold cuts and cured meats.

Fair Food Advances

The new aggregate floor has been installed at Fair Food’s new location along 12th street. Shelving installation looks like it should begin soon.

Work is just underway at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, but not much visible progress.

A Farmers' Market Called 'Eden'

I visited Mount Desert Island in Maine last week, and since we had a flat with a kitchen I stopped by the Eden Farmers’ Market, ‘Eden’ being the original name of Bar Harbor. The market is held Sunday mornings, in season, in the YMCA parking lot.

I restrained myself since we also planned to eat in some of the excellent local restaurants (excellent meals at Havana in Bar Harbor, Red Sky in Southwest Habor and XYZ in Manset), but could not resist a pint of blueberries (the “wild” variety, which are considerably smaller but more intensely flavored than the commercial highbush berries favored in Michigan, NC, South Jersey and PA). Also bought a half pound of crabmeat (made excellent crab rolls on the New England hot dog buns I bought at the superkmarket). Also picked up some home-cured Canadian bacon from Smith’s Log Smokehouse; the salami I bought from them last year was excellent, the back bacon this year even better.

I did not buy (because we simply had too much fruit in the flat already) absolutely gorgeous, huge red raspberries, each the size of my thumb. I regret passing them by.

Later in the week I went off-island to Trenton, visiting Pectic Seafood where I picked up a little bit of haddock. With some a half-and-half/milk mix, fresh chives and parsley from the garden, a bit of potato, onion softened in butter with a bit of that back bacon, I enjoyed an excellent fish chowder.